Friday, June 18, 2010

We Are NOT From France???




I suppose this is one of those instances where just a bit more research would have done me a world of good.  Let me explain... you see, I only looked to Mr. Meeble’s MySpace profile when I wrote my original entry on the band.  On that page the band claims to be from France.  But, upon scratching the surface just a bit more - visiting other of the band’s sites, etc. - I discovered that they are truly from Arizona.  I feel a bit dopey for not knowing this before writing about them.  I feel even dopier for having to now retract my retraction about not caring for unsigned, contemporary French bands.  As it turns out, France is once again safe to trash - at least in terms of their music.
I can’t help but wonder, though, had I realized Mr. Meeble was an American-born concoction, would I have been as impressed with their output.  I mean, when you have very low expectations, anything even half-way decent sounds great.  I’ll have to ponder this a bit more.  Which will require more caffeine.  So I’ll ponder it later and probably write a bit more at that point, as well.
What I will say for now is that Mr. Meeble (AKA Devin, Michael and Blain - if, indeed these are their real names and the photos [and one drawing] of them at MySpace actually represent real people) is/are intriguing me more and more with their slippery slight of hand.  Works pretty effectively for College and/or Indie band cred... time will tell if this turns out to be an effective tool for connecting with those outside this rather selective group of Ironophiles. 
S.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Recent Developments and Updates


Apparently my recuperating puppy is feeling himself again.  Despite having his belly laden with a series of bright purple stitches, he still managed to jump over the 3.5’ fence surrounding his sleeping pen during the night and escape into my partner’s office.  Not bad for a sickly little ankle-biter. 
Today is one of those days when I find myself lacking the will to sit down at my computer and spend an hour or two composing some wonderfully insightful, well-crafted mini-essay about some random band or musician or other.  I just don’t have the drive... at all.
I’d much rather open up my music or film editing software and immerse myself in one of several projects I’m working on at the moment.  So, instead of writing something in support of some other person or group of persons I’ve never met, never plan to meet and in whose career(s) I have no vested interest, I will instead regale you with tidbits of what I’m currently up to.
  1. I recently completed a video for the instrumental version of my song “Demeter,” which features a compilation of clips from Nosferatu.  I’ve posted it to Youtube at the following link:                                      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P-SW8G-qklI 
  2. I’m finishing up work on a cover of Joy Division’s song “The Kill.”  I’ve got all the tracks complete, just need to get the vocals recorded the way I want them and then I’ll make a video and post the whole thing on Youtube.  Hopefully that will be up and running in a week or so.  I will actually appear in this video.
  3. Still slogging through a video project with LC Messinger for her song “Say Something.”  The schedule for that has been pushed back a bit while LC deals with the passing of her dog Rudy.  I can testify from recent experience with my own infirm pooch that we can grow so attached to our pets that losing them can be as catastrophic as the passing of any other family member.  So best wishes to LC and we’ll get that video posted ASAP.
  4. I’m also beginning work on another video project, this one for my song “Labor Day.”  I did a bunch of filming up on the Russian River a couple weeks back and am currently figuring out how to stage and edit the final piece.  The river itself will figure prominently in the video, and I may make an appearance or two myself.  
  5. I’m working on several new songs and remixing some of my older ones in preparation for an upcoming release of some sort or other - probably a 5-7 song EP.  Once I’ve got a better sense of a release date I will post an update here.
That’s about it for now... Back in a day or so, once my critical muse returns from her/his (hopefully) brief hiatus...
   
  
S.

The Perils of Pip

Puck (L)  and  Pip (R)

As I began working on my blog this morning I was distracted by a cry of alarm from across the house.  One of my Boston Terriers, Pip, had been developing an infection on his stomach where he’d had an operation a few months back.  We began giving him antibiotics and warm compresses yesterday after taking him to the vet, but when he woke up this morning the infection had begun to abscess.  It looked really bad, probably worse than it actually was, but the site of it caused my partner a great deal of distress, hence the alarming cry from the dogs’ sleeping area.  
I gave up my attempt at writing - just as well as I was really not very focused at the time - and we took Pip back to the vet.  Long story short, we were given a choice of returning home with him and taking a wait and see approach (waiting and seeing for what, I’m still not sure - I don’t think it could have gotten much worse without being life-threatening and I had no idea how to make it better) or to have him go under the knife to fix the problem.  We chose the latter.  So now Pip is at the vet, awaiting surgery, and I am home, biting my fingernails.  
Pip has been a bit sickly since the day we first met him.  He was carsick the whole trip home from the breeders.  He developed a hiatal hernia a few weeks afterward, which mandated emergency surgery and several weeks of recovery.  Since then he’s developed a series of infections along the area where the surgeon stitched him up.  Despite all this, he is one of the most delightful, playful, loving animals I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.  His brother, Puck, isn’t half bad, either.  I feel very lucky to have them in my life.
I realize this entry has nothing whatsoever to do with the subject matter of this blog, but I wanted to get a blog entry out today and I’m too worried about Pip to write anything else worth reading.  I suppose I could write a song about the situatioin - I tend to do that whenever things are stressful in my life, hence all the ditties about fights, breakups, nervous breakdowns and midlife crises.  Yes, I do, in fact, perceive the world as my own private catharsis machine and anybody lucky enough to read my blog or listen to my music as my personal confessor.  
Not to worry, though, I haven’t forgotten about the Scottish bands I promised to write about this week.  As soon as Pip’s home and safe I’ll pick up where I left off.
Peace,
S.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Stuntman Mike's 10,000 Lives


I first wrote about Glasgow band Stuntman Mike this past January after discovering them on DJ Bluetone’s webcast from Scotland.  If you missed that blog, you can click here or simply read the following excerpt, as it’s more to the point:
    ... I can’t gush enough about Stuntman Mike... one of those 
    bands that manage to make pop music which stings a bit - with
    catchy, memorable hooks that, while easily digestible, go down 
    more like really strong, black espresso than the way-too-sugary 
    soft drinks we’re typically served.  Each song takes off from the 
    first note and races ahead, pulling one along by the viscera.  
    They’re loud and driving, with lots of pounding drums, thumping     
    bass notes and searing vocals.  And for a quartet their sound is
    surprisingly rich and full, their recordings incredibly well-produced
    and their live performances faithful to their studio work...
Now I often write these blog entries in the wee hours of the morn - say between 4 and 5am.  As a result, my observations are sometimes insomnia-driven and born upon a hazy wave of semi-somnambulism.  In other words, I sort of sleepwalk my way through much of this and, once in a while, upon waking, realize that some of my initial observations, while sincere at the time, were also a bit baseless.  In other, other words, I often find myself scratching my head and musing aloud: “What the hell was I thinking?”  
Not so, in the case of Stuntman Mike.  And, although it is roughly 5:14am as I write this, I’ve been awake since 3am, so I’m definitely in at least marginal control of my reasoning faculties and steadfast in my affirmative stance as regards Stuntman Mike.  Indeed, after listening to the band’s music for the first time in several months, I can easily say that I continue to stand by my initial assessment of the band’s appeal and musical acumen. 
This is especially true of their recently released single, “10,000 Lives,” a song that I’ve listened to dozens of times and still find it as compelling and listenable as I did from the first.  If you question my opinion, I invite you to visit Stuntman Mike in MySpace-land and judge for yourself.  For that matter, you might look to Youtube for further evidence of my assertions.  Then, you may click on the following banner link and download “10,000 Lives” from iTunes. 




Friday, June 4, 2010

Is Mr. Meeble xenophobic or is their album title just a ploy for attention?


A few months back I posted several entries re: French musicians (if you choose to click on this link, read only the sections in RED to follow the thread).  I was a bit harsh with my unrestrained criticism which, to be fair, was pretty accurate.  What I found most uninspiring about many of the unsigned French acts I encountered was a detached tone of ennui that pervaded the majority of vocal stylings - like a viral infection that’s caused one to become suddenly bored and unconcerned over the music, the lyrics and the whole music performance experience in general mid-song.  To be fair, French is a very nuanced and lyrical language that, I believe, lacks the drama and punch necessary to really finish off a good rock, pop or post-punk-type song.  Where I found French most effective was in the Goth mode (if you follow the link above I touch on this briefly).
Having said - or written - that, Mr. Meeble is one French act that’s figured out how to maneuver around this language issue by simply avoiding the need to sing much of the time, focusing instead upon what most of the French bands seem to do best: generate dreamy and moody musical sculptures from simple melodies interwoven with layers of resonant harmonies and extramusical sounds topped off with dubbed in, often conversant, vocal samples.  On the occasions when Mr. Meeble music does incorporate vocals, they are sung in English, which I humbly feel is more effective than French.  I realize my critique of French vocals risks reflecting a bit of Xenophobia (or would that simply be Franco-phobia?) on my part.  But, cultural bias or not, I can only report on what does or does not resonate with my personal tastes.  While on the topic of Xenophobia, I must warn any suffering from an overdeveloped sense of post-colonial guilt or a profound drive toward rigorous political correctness in all communications and correspondences, that the title of the band’s debut release Never Trust the Chinese is bound to offend.  But, needless to say, it is an attention grabber.
I enjoy listening to Mr. Meeble immensely.  They remind me of Tortoise in places, Mogwai and even Moby in others.  The band members themselves cite Massive Attack, Radiohead, Bjork and the Cocteau Twins among their many influences. They are a bit industrial, a bit electro-pop and an even larger bit ambient - one of those rare bands that can take a simple progression of several notes and play them over and over for several minutes without ever becoming tedious or boring.  
You can listen to song samples and learn more about Mr. Meeble at the band’s Reverb Nation and MySpace sites.  You can also purchase music at Amazon and iTunes by clicking on the links below.
S.


 
Amazon.com      iTunes


Thursday, June 3, 2010

My Russian River Vacation

Been out of town the past two weeks.  I went to San Francisco to see my dentist - yes, I travel 500 miles twice a year to get my teeth cleaned.  Long story, don’t ask.  I also spent Memorial Day weekend up at the Russian River, which is a resort area about an hour or so north of the Golden Gate Bridge.  I used to dislike the River area quite a bit - it’s a bit rundown, lackluster and populated with a fare share of aged hippies and up’N’coming meth-heads.  I only went because a good friend invited me to her “chalet” for a weekend BBQ with several old friends I don’t get to see very often.  Know what?  I ended up having a spectacular time.  Best I’ve had in a very, very long time.  So, as I said, I used to dislike the River, but now I think it’s one of my favorite places in the world.  But enough about that.
I’ve got so much to catch up on... First of all, I’ve got about 10 bands/acts to share, I’ve got music of my own to work on (which is still on hold until I figure out how to get all my studio devices to play well with my Mac - damn you Apple and your silly Snow Leopard!) and I’ve got a video to finish with LC Messinger.  BTW, in my last entry I mentioned that we were putting together a video for LC’s song “Girl.”  While that may be a reality some day, for the present we’ve decided to work on her song “Say Something,” instead.  That should be ready for viewing in a couple of weeks, provided I can get my video editing software to cooperate.  I also collected some great footage of running water and reveling tourists while on vacation that I plan to use in a video for my own song “Labor Day,” which will commence production as soon as I’m finished with LC.
In terms of unsigned musicians, I’ll work on a new blog entry later today and should have that out in the morning.  And I’m planning an expose on bands from Scotland for next week.  I’ve already written about some of these in earlier entries - June, Stuntman Mike - and with DJ Bluetone’s assistance, I’ve come across more Scottish acts that, fingers crossed, will find themselves with a larger audience and lots of cash and fame sooner than later.
So, until next time...
S.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

LC Messinger, aka When Girls Collide



I’ve been meaning to write about LC Messinger of When Girls Collide for quite some time.  She’s been a good friend for many years and is the person most responsible for reigniting my own musical fire after convincing me to record some guitar tracks on her Hit Me With Your Tailwag CD a few years back.  Since I began writing this blog I’ve been waiting for some news from LC to share with y’all.  Problem is, she’s been so busy producing Brian Lambert’s debut CD Spell For Happiness this past year that she hasn’t had time to do anything particularly noteworthy on her own.  
Well, now that Lambert’s CD is complete, Ms. Messinger is back in the studio working on remixes of some of her previously released material, along with a new video for the song “Girl” from her Wasted Ladies album.  Actually, LC and I are collaborating on the video, which, fingers crossed, will be hitting YouTube and other online venues mid-June.  I’ll keep you posted as the process progresses.
Messinger has been making music for some time now, most notabley with her band Unknown Gender in the early-to-mid-80s.  UG was a pioneering all-girl post-Punk band that once dominated the European music scene, particularly in Germany and Scandinavia.

Unknown Gender

Over the past decade or so Messinger has been developing her solo act When Girls Collide.  Although LC  once characterized WGC as Industrial Cabaret, since moving from the San Francisco Bay Area to Austin, TX three years ago, her sound has evolved into what she now describes as “KD Lang on acid in a barnyard full of loud animals” and “Spaghetti Western guitar meets a warehouse rave.”  In truth, LC’s sound is difficult to pin down.  It is eccentric, eclectic, whimsical, occasionally atonal and often just plain weird.  Her songs are typically rhythmic and danceable, spilled across a musical landscape colored with electronic doodles, unexpected guitar tweaks, percussive blips and unnerving vocal mutations.  As for her voice, it is filled with an androgynous ambiguity that is at times smooth and smokey, others brazen and screeching.  She is also a formally trained multi-instrumentalist, most notable for her innovative guitar work.    
Currently, WGC has three song collections available at Amazon and iTunes.  You can also sample LC’s music, including a few of her new remixes, at her MySpace and Reverb Nation sites.  

S.

 
Amazon.com     iTunes


Amazon.com     iTunes

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Thursday Morning, Filled with Thoughts of Shame and Supplication

OK, so I admit it, I haven’t been the most consistent blogger these past couple of months... I’ve had the best of intentions, but between my ongoing health problems, continual computer issues, work and social demands - as well as a tediously endless list of other impedances to my personal and creative time and energy - I have failed to live up to them.  And I know that you’ve noticed, whoever you are... because, according to my various site counters, you’ve stopped visiting my blog almost entirely.  
This makes me very sad, but I have only myself to blame.  I’d like to promise that I’ll make my blog a greater priority in the coming days and weeks, that I’ll post frequent new entries and that they will be full of insightful observations and droll repartee.  But the best I can do is promise to try.  I’m still embroiled in computer issues that have prevented me from recording any new music - or even working on production of already recorded material.  As music production is my #1 priority, I need to get that house in order before dwelling here in blog-land.  I feel a polemical diatribe re: Apple Computers and M-Audio studio recording products brewing in the next day or two... But I won’t bore you with my woes any longer this morning.
What I will do is leave you with a video clip that proves I don’t spend nearly enough time trolling around YouTube for the many compelling oddities and spectacles available there.  I had to find out about young Greyson Chance through a friend on Facebook.  This kid is so amazingly talented that I just had to repost his performance below.  Two things I want to mention up front:  
First, When I watched this yesterday for the first time I read a viewer comment claiming the performance was a bit shaky in places.  I tried to go back this morning and find the exact quote, but sifting through the millions of comments proved to be that old futile needle and haystack cliche.  But I wanted to reply to this ridiculous observation anyway:  
The kid is in the 6th grade.  He’s like what, 11 or 12 years old?  Give me a freakin’ break - shaky in places, sheesh!  He’s a goddamned savant.  I’d argue that perhaps about 0.001% of anybody living today could come even close to displaying this sort of talent, and that's without limiting him to just children his age.  I’d like to say something even nastier to the unlearned buffoon who posted such moronic drivel, but then I’d be just like every other jerk on the internet with a computer and a personality disorder.  So I’ll leave it at that.
Second, I fear for this very talented young man’s future.  The entertainment industry eats kids like him for breakfast and then spits them out, post-puberty, into drug rehabs, jails and tabloid feature articles.  I don’t need to belabor the point... just go rent Amadeus if you want evidence of the long, tragic history of the exploitation of young prodigies. 
But beyond that, happy viewing! 
S.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Sean Burford


For my second installment of local desert musicians/recording artists I’d like to present Palm Springs resident Sean Burford.  Burford is a multi-instrumentalist who brings a variety of influences and styles (industrial/electronic, psychedelic, progressive, classical, lounge blues/jazz, even a hint of bossa nova here and there) to his music, which he adeptly blends into something fresh and original.  His songs, like so much of the music that really grabs my attention and that I find comment-worthy, are both complex and accessible, full of irony and humor, yet also haunting and ethereal.    
Before my unfortunate pinched nerve incident while in Austin last month, Sean and I exchanged emails re: his musical approach.  Here’s how Sean describes his work:
“My music project, Hymnself, consists of a post-religious prophet who connects with the cosmos to deliver the message of the universe. Because of this connection, the one that communicates with the stars and all matter develops human emotions. As a result of this, our chosen voice begins to stretch the boundaries of egotism. Seeking inspiration from various mediums including nature itself, my hope is to create an experience that will develop into a harmonious and a heck of a good time. This will only be so if those that seek enlightenment do so with an open heart and open mind.”
According to his Reverb Nation bio, Sean has been writing and recording for over 15 years.  He used to build guitars from old car speakers, fishing line and 2x4s and recorded his music by overdubbing on multiple 2-track tape decks.  He was trained as a brass instrumentalist, but is pretty much an autodidact in terms of his multi-instrumental performance and recording skills.
From what I understand, Sean does not currently have any music available for sale, however he does provide free downloads at his Reverb Nation page.
S.


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Gram Rabbit


And now, as promised weeks and weeks (and weeks) ago, my long-awaited homage to the Mojave Desert music scene:
I begin my expose of talented musicians living and working in or near my adopted hometown of Palm Springs, CA with Gram Rabbit, a band from Joshua Tree that is quickly becoming my favorite (relatively) unknown local band.  Mesmerizing, both musically and visually, GR masterfully blend and bend genres - from Country Rock, to Post-Punk Pop, Electronica and Psychedelia - into their own signature sound that is equal parts ironic, irreverent, haunting and cinematic.  On their MySpace site they describe their music as “other, other, other,” citing influences which include “... jesus, the devil... the desert... the easter bunny... aliens... witchcraft, secret societies... sand in my high-heels, the number 333.”  
Though I have yet to experience Gram Rabbit in a live performance, from what I’ve seen of their videos, I could best describe their act is frenetic, multi-media, post-apocalyptic psycho-cabaret.  Again, the band’s visual program is as eclectic and audacious as their music.  
Vocalist Jesika von Rabbit, GR’s audio-visual focal point, fuses her Dale Bozzio meets Emmylou Harris vocal style into rich layers of instrumental and extra-musical sounds that are as stirring as they are whimsical.  Though it might be a stretch, I keep thinking of GR’s music as sited - in the same way one might describe an art installation or a work of Architecture as being intrinsically tied to a specific place or locale.  Each note, utterance and drumbeat reminds one of the stark, desolate, often lonely emptiness - yet simultaneous sublime richness - of the Mojave.  At the same time, their songs possess a universal accessibility that refuses to confine itself to the a purely desert milieu.  
OK, I’ve gone on drooling long enough.  I highly recommend checking Gram Rabbit out at one of their online venues [MySpace, GR Website, etc.].  And, if you are so inclined, you can click on one of the links provided here to purchase their music at Amazon.  


   

S.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

I'm Back... 2


One more thing I wanted to mention.  One of my prime reasons for writing this blog has been to attract attention not only to other struggling, unsigned musicians, but also to garner some of that attention for my own  musical endeavors.  But guess what?  For some inexplicable reason, I’ve got gobs of people reading my blog, but very few sampling my songs.  I mean, would it kill you to at least listen to a tune or two, even if just to pacify my endlessly insatiable ego? 
Also, since last November I’ve noticed that my blogging has been stealing precious time and creative energy away from my songwriting.  So I’m doubly screwed as nobody’s listening to the marginal songs I’ve already recorded and I have little time or energy left to make better ones. 
In addition to all that, I’m not earning any money through my current monetizing strategies - seems along with not having time to listen to my songs, none of you has the ability to click on an ad once in a while!  [Disclaimer - that last statement was not meant as an inducement to click on any Google AdSense ads if you were not already inclined to do so.  I singed a contract specifically stating I would not encourage use of the AdSense program simply to bolster my own earnings, so that’s not what I am doing here.  Honestly.  Simply sharing an observation is all.]
So here’s what’s going to happen from now on.  I will back off a bit on the in-depth analysis of the bands I write about so that I have more time for my other work.  I will pump up my monetizing strategies by focusing mostly on bands that have CDs and downloads available for sale (and asking that you click on the links I provide to access Amazon and iTunes if you intend to purchase said music) and I will begin requesting donations.  Finally, I will start pushing my own music on you with merciless regularity.  
Thanks for your support.  Oh, and please check out some of the links I’ve provided on the homepage of my website, spsmyth.com.
Peace, Love and Dreams of Income...

S.

I'm Back...



Finally returning to work today after over a month of convalescing from neck, shoulder and arm pain.  I have this condition where, from time to time, bones in my neck rub against certain nerves, irritating them and causing considerable pain on either side of my upper body.  I have occasional flareups, but for over 5 years have been able to control them with exercise and over the counter pain meds.  Apparently, I irritated the nerves in my neck with all the driving I did from California to Texas and for some reason those nerves got a little more irate than usual.  In fact, this time around the problem was so severe that it left me almost completely immobilized and forced to take large quantities of narcotics to manage the pain.  
I honestly don’t know how opiate addicts do it.  My hat is truly off to them.  I mean the Vicodin was great for the first couple of days (or at least it would have been, had I not been in so much pain that I couldn’t really enjoy it), but then my doctor put me on this drug called Norco.  Norco is the same thing as Vicodin, only the narcotic - Hydrocodone - is twice as strong with only about half the amount of Acetaminophen (Tylenol).  Don’t understand how it all works, exactly, but I do know this, without that extra Acetaminophen, Norco makes me feel just really, really awful - dizzy, nauseated, sedated, mentally confused and just sort of icky all over.  I couldn’t decide which was worse, the pain or the pain medication.  
Now the reason my doctor switched to this drug was because she was concerned that I might begin abusing Vicodin, which is pretty addictive, and which, because it has more Tylenol, can damage one’s liver in larger amounts.  So instead, she gave me a stronger drug, which, as I see it, pretty much guaranteed a higher degree of certainty for physical, if not emotional, dependency.  Great thinking, huh?  I think she did it precisely because she knew it would make me feel sicker and thus less likely to abuse it.  Thanks Doc!  Funny thing is, I found that if I took a Tylenol pill along with my dose of Norco, the unpleasant side-effects went away, so I ended up filling my liver with Acetaminophen after all!  
And now I’m having these wonderful drug withdrawals, with the shaking and the nausea and that feeling that I’m seeing the world through a long, dark tunnel and, of course, that fun panicky sensation all over.  All I can say about all this is just say no to drugs, stay in school and never, never trust your doctor.  Oh, and that it really is true that flying is safer than driving.
OK, just needed to vent my considerable woe.  I’ve got so much to write about - stuff I’ve been thinking about for the past month while out of service - and will try and catch up over the next few days.  Provided, fingers crossed, that my neck and arm continue to feel better.
S.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Kill The Drama 2

While I’m on the mend I figured I’d point you toward independent music journalist Ana Barbu and her blog site Uncovered Sounds.   I really enjoyed her recent article on Kill The Drama.  Happy reading!
S.
ps.  KTD’s album Close Friends With Sharp Knives is available from Amazon and iTunes:



Apple iTunes

Please Stand By...


While it has been my intention to resume posting new blog entries for the past several weeks now, I have continued to be unable to do so as my neck, shoulder and right arm continue to be of little use.  I am getting better each day and hope that I will be up and writing again early next week.  I apologize for the lack of new content and promise to redress that ASAP.
Thank you for your patience and continued support.
S.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Rehashing Old Business...

I’ve been back in Palm Springs for almost a week now and still having lots of neck, shoulder and arm pain.  The upside - relatively cheap and powerful drugs.  Unfortunately, I’m still not up to snuff re: my typing skills.  So, I decided to repost some older reviews of some of my most favoritist artists for the next few days, just in case you missed them first time around.  
Hopefully I’ll be back on the horse in a few days and ready to pummel you with new material.
S.
Patrick Doval (originally posted 11/27/09)
Digging through my Myspace Friends’ Friends I found this recording/video artist named Parick Doval and instantly fell in love with his sound.  So much so that I went right to itunes and purchased his two collections: Deliverance and Fractured.  Very retro-eighties proto/pre/post - or whatever - goth, psychedelia ala early New Order, Cure, Siouxsie, etc.  His videos likewise possess that same naive early MTV quality - they dare to be artsy as opposed to the banal, unabashed lifestyle porn that most video ‘artists’ currently strive to embody.   
I especially appreciate his use of the bass as a musical instrument (rather than as a tool for irritating one’s neighbors at 3am - Uh oh, am I showing my age here?).
He’s unsigned, and his recordings are, as with most unsigned artists and their very limited budgets, a bit raw.  But I think that actually works in his favor, lending his music that uncluttered, underproduced sound that made bands such as Bauhaus and Joy Division so distinctive.  
Standout songs:
Ashes of Life:  Reminds me a lot of post-Joy Division-New Order (when they were still fresh and original).  Although Patrick’s vocals foil the comparison, being more dramatic and vibrant than Bernard Sumner’s deadpan monotone.  The video is also a lot of fun.  Can’t get the freakin’ song out of my head.
Don’t let me go:  Sounds like it could be a lost track from some early Cure album, say Seventeen Seconds or Pornography.  Extremely haunting and moodily melodic.  Another one I can’t stop thinking about.  
Many Faces: More aggressive and Industrial than the others.  Reminds me a bit of Gary Numan’s more recent work.  
Also:
Empty Road
Turbulence
Caged
OK, no matter how much I write here, it won’t do justice to Doval’s music.  I urge you to check him out.  Really great, compelling material.
For more info on Patrick you can visit these sites:
Download Patrick Doval at Apple iTunes

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Back to the Music

I was still stuck in my hotel room most of the day yesterday, so I don't have a lot to share re: the SXSW festival.  But I wanted to write at least a little something about music this morning because, since writing about my pinched nerve, my Google AdSense has begun only displaying ads re: health issues, especially nerve injuries.  And that's sort of creeping me out right now.  I hope that simply providing a header with the right keywords will remedy that   : /

I'm Really bummed at the moment that I missed so much of the festival - I'm certain my neck/shoulder nerve issues arose due to my insistence upon driving from SoCal to Texas - next time I'm going to bite the bullet and fly.

Once my shoulder and arm are back in working order I do plan to devote a blog entry to my other interesting experiences here in Austin, such as the afternoon I spent at the local Urgent Care unit and the hours upon hours wasted in my room watching the news coverage re: the healthcare debate.  And, of course, the local news coverage of the festival that's been so near, yet so far away, will find its way into my blog, as well.

I am feeling much better today and am planning to spend the day with some artist and musician friends of mine here in Austin.  And I will definitely get downtown, at least for a while, to experience these final two days of the festival today and tomorrow.

S.

Friday, March 19, 2010

What a Pain in the Neck!

Last time I checked in here I was on my way to Austin and the SXSW festival.  I've been in Austin since Tuesday 3/16, but have yet to actually make it downtown for the festival.  I apparently pinched a nerve in my neck and have been laid up in my hotel room in considerable pain since my arrival.  Finally went to the E-room yesterday and got some killer drugs which, while not alleviating all my pain completely, are definitely helping me quite a bit.  It's been very difficult to type with my neck and shoulder hurting, which is why I haven't checked in sooner.

I will get down to the festival today and tomorrow and will comment on what I find down there as soon as I'm able.

Thanks for your patience and support!

S.

Monday, March 15, 2010

SXSW Vol. 1

Why am I sitting with my laptop (on my lap-top), on a bed, in a weathered - though recently painted - prefab oak furniture and retro-British horse and hound print-drenched room at the Best Western off Highway 10 in Sonora, TX?  Aside from sitting out the most relentless downpour, the most garish flashes of lightening and the loudest, window-rattling-est, room-shaking-est thunder I've heard/felt in all my many (many) days?

Well, I'm on the third day of a four-day driving trip from Palm Springs, CA to Austin, TX for the musical leg of the SXSW Festival.  Why am I doing this?  Well, because I've never been to the festival and, from what I understand, it's the place to be for any and everybody interested in contemporary music.

Oh, you want to know why I'm driving.  I get it.

Well, not sure I have a sane answer to that question.  Especially now, as I sit here, hobbled by this uniquely nasty storm.  I suppose the long and short of it - in that order - is that I find the need, at least once a year, to venture out into the desert wilds of the American Southwest, accompanied by little more than my ipod, my thoughts and as much luggage as I can fit into my Beetle's 2'x2' trunk, in order to keep my head clear and my creativity flowing.  As I'm way overdue for that, I figured I'd take advantage of this opportunity to get out and do some of that well-needed head clearing.  And I'm morbidly afraid to fly.

I do it from time to time - fly, that is - when I absolutely have to.  I flew to Orlando, FL last year about this time for an academic conference.  I considered driving there, as well, but decided that would just be insane.  However, driving more than half that distance for this year's voyage seemed perfectly lucid two days ago.  Now, not so sure.  Particularly as I contemplate the return trip.  But I'll fret about that come next Monday.

For now, I'm looking forward to getting into Austin tomorrow - as soon as the weather permits - and setting up my temporary HQ at the Austin Marriott near the airport.  I'd originally booked a hotel downtown, where I'd have been able to walk to all the major venues with ease, but there was some sort of technical mixup and now I'm stuck out by the airport.  No need to finger point in terms of whose to blame for the snafu, although I'm certain it was the Marriott hotel chain's fault and not mine.  But honestly, I'm just happy to have a place to stay.  A vacant and affordable hotel room is a rare find in Austin at the moment.  So I'll withhold my complaints to the management until after the festival's conclusion - don't want to rock the boat just yet - never know when another "accidental" techno-glitch my occur and leave me afloat and stranded with nowhere to stay at all.

I'll check in with you all again once I'm settled in Austin.  After that, I intend to send out periodic dispatches from the field as the week progresses.  As I'm disinclined to spend days on end deluged by major industry folks - there are already too many others willing to do that - I plan to spend my time exploring some of the more tangential, and, I expect, compelling venues that will undoubtedly emerge from within the city's alternative underbelly.  Also, I couldn't afford festival tickets.

So, until then, pray for my safe deliverance from the perilous abyss of rural Texas into the milk-and-honey promised land of greater Austin.  I'll sleep better tonight knowing somebody's looking out for my best interests.


S.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Ethan Caleb


Victoria, BC singer/songwriter Ethan Caleb is arguably the youngest artist I’ve written about to date - from what I can tell, he’s still in high school.  Nevertheless, I find his music extremely compelling.  His compositions and lyrics are highly sophisticated, especially for a songwriter of his age.  This tension between youth and sophistication infuses his work with an unsettling, haunting poignancy - a wide-eyed naivety foiled at every turn by a pathos-filled, world-weary sadness - that isn’t easily left behind once the music stops.
His songs are minimal, in most cases featuring a single instrument and Ethan’s distinct choir boy in a piano bar vocals.  He cites Leonard Cohen as one of his primary influences and includes a cover of Cohen’s “Suzanne” on his Reverb Nation site.  His style is clearly influenced by Cohen, but his approach is fresh and original, just the same.
He’s posted a handful of songs to MySpace and Reverb Nation.  Of these, I find myself repeatedly drawn back to “After the City,” an eccentric acoustic guitar and vocal piece that is emblematic of his emerging style.

In addition to Ethan’s solo work he sings for a band calling itself The Shenanigans, also from Victoria.  Judging from the song sample on The Shenanigans’ Reverb Nation site, Ethan is not only a talented singer and songwriter, but also a very powerful and versatile rock vocalist, as well.
S.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Briefly...

OK, I’m going to be really lazy today and just provide a few links on several bands/musicians I’ve been listening to this past weekend.  I’ll get more in-depth on each in the coming days, but for now this is all I’ll say...





I like them all for very different reasons and each appeals to vastly different tastes - from folk to rock to post-punk to emo.  I’m not gonna say which is which, you’ll just have to visit their sites and figure it out yourself.  
BTW, Meghan Tonjes’ music is available at Amazon.

S.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Brain Lambert 2

The following is a partial re-post of an entry I made back in November.  I’m posting it here and now for those who missed it the first time around and to let you all know that Brian’s debut album Spell for Happiness is currently available at CDBaby
“... Emerging as a unique voice from within the exuberant Austin, TX music scene, Brian Lambert began working with musician/producer LC Messinger last year when ‘mistaken as a Jehovah witness, [he] knocked on the door of Crush M Records.’  The synthesis between Lambert’s Americana and Messinger’s ‘KD Lang on acid in a barn yard full of loud animals’ approach is quirky, odd and unsettling.  Which, from me, is a ringing endorsement.
Initially, I wasn’t sure what to make of the sound.  The first track I heard, a demo titled ‘Spell for Happiness’ [which would be re-mixed and issued as the new album’s title track], was an eccentric, blues/folk tune - a stripped down acoustic guitar and vocal - that sounded as though it were pressed on vinyl and played back through an ancient Victrola.  But it grew on me the more I played it.  Which is true of each song I’ve heard since.  As I write this I am listening to Brian’s latest posting at his Myspace page,‘Didn’t Want You to Want Me.’  Again he appeals to past musical styles - in this case late ‘60s Blues Rock ala Hendrix and the Doors - but here Messinger’s production augments basic guitar, base, drum and vocal tracks with a melange of atonal electronica that confounds one’s ability to dismiss this as derivative or to pigeon-hole Lambert as retro-this or that.  
Brian has a very strong, versatile voice.  He describes himself on his Myspace page as ‘A cross between Bob Dylan, Jeff Buckley and David Byrne.’  While this may be accurate, such comparisons are useful more as marketing soundbites than as a complete description of Lambert’s oeuvre.  In truth, Brian has his own fluid and distinct vocal style, one that compliments his unique approach to musical de-&-re construction...”  
Spell for Happiness was produced by LC Messinger and is being released under Messinger’s Crush M Records label.  Other releases from Crush M Records include multiple albums from Messinger’s own solo project When Girls CollideWGC CDs and MP3s are available at Amazon.com and iTunes.
S.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Back to Palm Springs (sort of)



Well, as I’m still waiting to hear back from a number of Palm Springs area folks with info I might be able to share with you, and as I have a ton of others I’d like to write about, I’ve decided to stop holding things up and move on to the next bunch of acts I’ve been putting on hold.  In the meantime, I’m still planning to interview Sean Brown (aka SA!NT) and I’ve been in touch with Zinema and plan to see them play in the next week or so.  As soon as those things happen, or as soon as I hear back from one of the others on my Palm Springs list, I’ll write more on the subject.  For now, if so inclined, you can visit any of my local favorites in their respective web territories (listed below).
S.